We’ve been pleased to continue a series that started with the article The Basics of Asphalt. It’s been our goal to expand upon the different aspects and properties of asphalt to help you learn about asphalt and its many components. Lately, we’ve looked into the history of asphalt and have covered its ancient history as well as early roads. Today we’ll consider how asphalt was originally integrated into making roads and see just how far its use has come.
The First Asphalt Roads in America
Starting in the late 1860s the very first bituminous mixtures produced in the United States were used in creating sidewalks, crosswalks, and even roads themselves. The first true asphalt pavement to be laid in the country was a sand mix that was used in front of City Hall in Newark, New Jersey. Other early asphalt projects in the United States include the paving of Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington DC. These two large projects, among many others, proved that American asphalt pavement was just as high quality as that which was imported from Europe.
The budding asphalt industry led many in a race to submit patents in the late 1860s. Fierce competition propelled many of these new patented mixes into being very successful and technically innovative. This growth led to widespread adoption of asphalt use and in 1896 New York City was using it instead of brick, granite, and woodblock.
The use of asphalt would continue to widen and the implementation for paving steadily improve. As WWII ended and families moved to the suburbs, road building would finally move to the next level of being a massive industry. Congress passed the State Highway Act in 1956 and it allotted $51 billion to the states for road construction. Because contractor projects were now on such a huge scale there was a need for bigger and better equipment, which led to some big changes and improvements in the asphalt industry, especially regarding machinery.
The 1950s saw electric leveling controls added to pavers and the early 1960s brought automated screen controls. In 1968 extra-wide finishers were introduced that were capable of paving two lanes at once.
Improvements in Asphalt Today
Because quality and improvement were so important in the asphalt industry and for our roads, the National Asphalt Pavement Association was established in 1955. One of its first and largest priorities was a Quality Improvement Program. This program sponsored asphalt testing at universities and private testing labs, using the results among members to improve the quality within the industry and for Americans everywhere.
We hope you’ve learned something about how asphalt roads were first implemented in the states and the many wonderful improvements that have been made in the industry. We work hard to continue that legacy and strive to perfect the use of asphalt, especially when it comes to serving you and your project needs. We are always trying to create a better and more cost-effective option for you and are here for ANY and ALL of your asphalt or pavement questions and needs.
Call us today or Click Here for a Free Quote on your asphalt paving needs.